Structures built to meet or exceed current model building codes for high-wind regions have a much better chance of surviving violent windstorms. Learn how to protect your home from turbulent weather by understanding the The Standard Building Code, issued by the Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. The Standard Building Code is one source for guidance on fortifying your home against fierce winds. Earlier this year, Office of the Governor for the state of Virginia declared May as the Building Safety Month. Although no home can withstand a direct hit from a severe tornado, solid construction will help your home survive if it’s to the side of the tornado’s path.
When inspecting your home, pay particular attention to the windows, doors, roof, gables and connections (roof-to-wall, wall-to-foundation). Residences in inland areas are typically not built to withstand high wind forces, and weaknesses in these elements of your home make it more vulnerable to significant damage. If you’re handy with a hammer and saw, you can do much of the work yourself. Work involving your home’s structure may require a building contractor, however, or even a registered design professional such as an architect or engineer.
When working outside
- Replace gravel/rock landscaping material with shredded bark.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed. Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house.
When building or remodeling
Windows: If you are replacing your existing windows, install impact-resistant window systems, which have a much better chance of surviving a major windstorm. These window systems are commonly available in hurricane-prone areas. If you are unable to find them locally, you can order them from manufacturers or home improvement stores in coastal areas.
Entry doors: Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a dead-bolt security lock, with a bolt at least one inch long. Anchor door frames securely to wall framing.
Patio doors: Sliding glass doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors. If you are replacing your patio doors or building a new home, consider installing impact-resistant door systems made of laminated glass, plastic glazing or a combination of plastic and glass.
Garage doors: Because of their size and construction, garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage. A qualified inspector can determine if both the door and the track system can resist high winds and, if necessary, replace them with a stronger system. Garage doors more than 8 feet wide are most vulnerable. Install permanent wood or metal stiffeners. Or contact the door manufacturer’s technical staff for recommendations about temporary center supports you can attach and remove easily when severe weather threatens.
Roofs: If you are replacing your roof, take steps to ensure that both the new roof covering and the sheathing will resist high winds. Your roofing contractor should:
- Remove old coverings down to the bare wood sheathing.
- Remove sheathing to confirm that rafters and trusses are securely connected to the walls.
- Replace damaged sheathing.
- Refasten existing sheathing according to the proper fastening schedule outlined in the current model building code for high-wind regions.
- Install a roof covering designed to resist high winds.
- Seal all roof sheathing joints with self-stick rubberized asphalt tape to provide a secondary moisture barrier.
If you want to give your roof sheathing added protection, but it’s not time to re-roof, glue the sheathing to the rafters and the trusses. Use an adhesive that conforms to Performance Specification AFG-01 developed by APA — The Engineered Wood Association, which you can find at any hardware store or home improvement center.
Gables: Brace the end wall of a gable roof properly to resist high winds. Check the current model building code for high-wind regions for appropriate guidance, or consult a qualified engineer or architect.
Connections: The points where the roof and the foundation meet the walls of your house are extremely important if your home is to resist high winds and the pressures they place on the entire structure.
- Anchor the roof to the walls with metal clips and straps (most easily added when you replace your roof).
- Make certain the walls are properly anchored to the foundation. A registered design professional can determine if these joints need retrofitting, and a qualified contractor can perform the work the design professional identifies.
- If your house has more than one story, make certain the upper story wall framing is firmly connected to the lower framing. The best time to do this is when you remodel.
When you protect your home from turbulent weather, you will save yourself time and money. With a combined experience of over 60 years in the insurance industry, The Insurance Advisor® of Chesterfield is a full service Independent Insurance Agency representing many of Virginia’s premier personal lines insurance carriers. We assess risks and shop for companies to find the best coverage for the lowest price.